As it embarks on an ambitious new chapter of growth, the Elementary Institute of Science, which provides hands-on STEM (short for science, technology, engineering and math) education for underserved children and youth, today announced the appointment of Ida Rose Florez as its executive director and Anthonette Peña as its director of education.
The appointment of Florez, a nationally recognized educational leader is a key component of Elementary Institute of Science’s efforts to expand its educational offerings to more students both in the Diamond District, where it is located, as well as to other underserved communities, said Patsy Tomlin, who chairs the organization’s board of directors.
The mission of EIS is to nurture the intellectual curiosity of San Diego’s young people by providing “hands-on” learning experiences to further understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The organization’s primary goal is to develop a science-literate populace and inspire participation in critically needed STEM careers. This goal is achieved by providing quality enrichment education programs that are affordable and accessible for all students.
“For more than 50 years, the Elementary Institute of Science has been providing best-of-class STEM education to underserved communities,” Tomlin said. “The demand for STEM talent continues to grow so we knew we needed a leadership team who would be committed to this organization’s long-standing vision to meet this demand and grow our offerings. Together Ida Rose and Anthonette will help develop innovative programs that deliver on this organization’s mission, which is to empower students through STEM education.”
Florez, a San Diego native and graduate of Madison High School, has more than 25 years of experience in educational leadership at the local, state and national levels. Prior to joining the Elementary Institute of Science, Florez was a senior project director for WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies, where she led a statewide professional development program for First 5 California. Prior to her work with WestEd, Florez was senior director of strategic initiatives for the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board. She has held faculty appointments with University of Arizona, Penn State University and Arizona State University, and served as consultant with the National Governor’s Association.
Florez holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Arizona, where she was awarded a Marshall Foundation Graduate Dissertation Fellowship. Her work has been published by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, Teachers College Record, Language Policy, and Journal of Early Childhood Education. Florez is the vice president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead an organization that provides first-hand, high-quality STEM experiences for San Diego’s children and youth,” Florez said. “It’s an honor to serve in such a well-respected, community-serving organization.”
Peña brings a wealth of educational leadership and science teaching experience to the Elementary Institute of Science. She taught science in Title 1 schools in Florida and in the District of Columbia Public Schools. While teaching in Washington D.C., she secured and managed a $20,000 grant to send a student research project to the International Space Station with the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program. Peña also served for two years as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence Science and was recognized as a state finalist for the Presidential Award in Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). She earned her B.A. in liberal studies with concentrated studies in Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.S. in education in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Nova Southeastern University.
To introduce these two new leaders of Elementary Institute of Science, the organization is holding an open house on March 5 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The event will highlight the hands-on programs Elementary Institute of Science is currently providing with live demonstrations. It will also provide a window into the organization’s future goals to expand its offerings to different communities and age groups.
The event, which will provide light refreshments, is free and open to the public. To register, please visit http://eisopenhouse2016.eventbrite.com.